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August 14, 2014

Free Agent Watch

Week 20

by Mike Gianella and Bret Sayre

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12-Team Mixed

Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota Twins
With Arcia having played the 162nd game of his young career, his overall fantasy line— .241 average, 24 homers, 72 RBI and 61 runs scored—doesn’t exactly scream mixed league stalwart. Sure, the power is nice, but he’s also racked up 196 strikeouts over that timeframe—good for a 30.7 percent rate. That’s not going to help him improve on that batting average. However, Arcia’s track record in the minor leagues suggests that he’s not this type of player, and he seems to be heating up of late. While he’s been particularly hot in August, his turnaround has been happening for longer than that. On June 22nd, he was sitting on a 29 at-bat hitless streak and a .638 OPS for the season, but after getting a few days off, Arcia got out from underneath that boulder and has proceeded to hit .260/.350/.463 with six homers in 36 games since. That would be good enough to be relevant in most mixed leagues that start five outfielders, but Arcia’s upside exceeds what he’s done at the major league level thus far. After all, he was a career .314 hitter in the minor leagues (over 434 games). —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Wil Myers

Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
On one hand, it’s been rather surprising to see Hellickson be as successful as he’s been in the short-term since returning from elbow surgery in the offseason. On the other hand, it’s also easy to forget that he was a former top prospect (ranked ninth overall by Kevin Goldstein here at BP prior to the 2011 season) who had a 3.06 ERA over his first three seasons (spanning over 400 innings). That ERA sits at 2.03 after five starts this season, and although it’s well below his FIP of 3.83, this is anything but uncharted territory for the 27-year old starter. In both 2011 and 2012, Hellickson outperformed his FIP by a run and a half with a combination of a low BABIP and high strand rate—two things that we, as a community, have a hard time accepting as repeatable. Jason Collette wrote all about Hellickson and his tightrope walking prior to the 2013 season, and even though his career has been interrupted by a year of terrible performance and an elbow injury (not entirely unrelated), we may be back in the same place with him. There may be some rough matchups down the stretch, but he should be well worth using on Sunday at home against the Yankees. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Jeremy Hellickson, of yore

Deep Mixed

Ender Inciarte, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Inciarte isn’t much to look at outside of his defense, which means he isn’t much to look at in fantasy. He is playing regularly, though, and even when A.J. Pollock returns later this month is still likely to grab a fair amount of playing time down the stretch (assuming the Diamondbacks don’t fall in love with Xaiver Paul; it sounds ridiculous but we are talking about the Diamondbacks). Inciarte is a poor man’s version of a hitter many fantasy wags inexplicably fell in love with last year, Adam Eaton. Both stole a lot of bases and hit well in very hitter-friendly environments in the minors and didn’t see their hitting skills translate to the majors right away. In a perfect world, Inciarte will start running a lot more down the stretch, but I’d just count on regular at-bats and be happy with anything else. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Adam Eaton with a lower batting average

Jeremy Guthrie, RHP, Kansas City Royals
I am reluctant to start pitchers like Guthrie even in a deeper mixed format, but with two strong outings in a row he is worth considering if you are desperate for starts. The Royals strong performance over the last month also makes any Royals pitcher available on the wire a worthy wins candidate. Guthrie’s low strikeout rates are always going to make him a borderline play in mixed formats, but at the moment he is worth a start if you need the innings and/or the wins. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Brad Penny


Avisail Garcia, OF, Chicago White Sox

Yes, he’s back. Garcia is 11 games into a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte after it looked like he would miss the season with a shoulder injury that required surgery back in April. And he’s been surprisingly good so far—his .366/.409/.488 line in 41 at-bats is a very good sign, although it’s accompanied by his special brand of plate discipline (13 strikeouts and one walk). If he can make it through the rest of the assignment unscathed, he’s likely looking at a lot of playing time down the stretch, so that he can get his sea legs back under him heading into 2015. And while he did carry some hype earlier in the year, it’s perfectly plausible that he was dropped in your AL-only format after being prematurely declared out for the season. Expectations shouldn’t be that high, especially in the power department, but the rest of Garcia’s toolbox could show up over the last six weeks of the season—meaning the potential for average and some steals.

Comparable Player: About 80% of Adam Eaton

J.A. Happ, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
A few weeks ago, I wrote Happ up as a deep mixed league option, but this week I am “demoting” him to an AL-only option. Happ is capable of putting up terrific starts like he did on August 7th against the Orioles, but he is also just as likely to put up a mediocre start (or worse) like he did this past Tuesday against the Mariners. Happ is a decent enough option in AL-only, but at this point he has to be accepted as a fourth or fifth AL-only starter and little more. We have seen enough of Happ to know that he has a good fastball and little else, and is not going to have enough nights with his limited stuff where everything is clicking. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Jorge de la Rosa


Matt den Dekker, OF, New York Mets

With Chris Young being released, the Mets turn again to prospects (or at least players you’ve never heard of) to fill out the outfield. There’s not going to be anything intimidating to opposing pitchers about a den Dekker/Eric Campbell platoon, but then again there’s little intimidation in the Mets’ lineup anywhere these days. The 27-year old rookie (yes, he’s still eligible with only 114 major league AB) has done less than nothing at the plate so far in New York, though the fact that he hasn’t contributed a negative WARP with his .512 OPS says something about the quality of his defense. Terry Collins isn’t going to let him get many at bats against left-handers the rest of the way, which is a good thing for fantasy owners—den Dekker hit .328/.390/.518 in Triple-A this year against right-handed pitching. Yes, it was Las Vegas, but he had less than a 50 point swing in OPS between home and road games in the PCL. It’s unlikely he’ll do anything worth noticing, but even a platoon guy with very limited upside in a bad lineup has his place in the format. –Bret Sayre

Comparable Player - Kevin Kiermaier, without the mini-breakout

Travis Wood, LHP, Chicago Cubs
Wood was understandably dropped even in NL-only leagues after a disastrous series of performances that put his ERA dangerously close to 5.00. Don’t look now, but Wood has suddenly reeled off some decent outings, with a strikeout rate of a batter an inning over his last four starts (23 innings worth). Wood isn’t suddenly going to replicate last season, but he has been providing enough positive impact in strikeouts to add him safely in NL-only leagues. I doubt he will bounce back completely, but he is showing some signs that there is a moderate turnaround coming. - Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Anything between Dillon Gee and Josh Collmenter

Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mike's other articles. You can contact Mike by clicking here
Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

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